Limping Susan

by Lisa Rosen on September 6, 2011

You remember Hoppin’ John, right?  Well, meet Hoppin’ John’s unfortunately-named cousin–Limping Susan.  I had never heard the name Limping Susan till a local restaurant owner wrote about it in his weekly newsletter–but the dish was totally familiar.  Rice, tomatoes, okra–some of my favorite things, all jumbled together.  I don’t know who  gave it such a silly moniker, but I wonder if maybe they were trying to avoid the okra stigma.

Ben Barker, owner of Magnolia Grill (another local restaurant, and a leader in the upscale Southern food trend), writes about this recipe in his book, Not Afraid of Flavor:

“When we served this as part of a smoked pork tenderloin plate, the menu description ‘stewed okra’ seemed to deter a sizable percentage of customers.  But once we changed the name to ‘tomato gumbo,’ the dish became amazingly popular.”

Ben apparently has better luck than I do–Lee wasn’t buying any of it at our house.  I bought some okra, with every intention of making the “gumbo.”  But when he asked what was for dinner, I made the mistake of telling him.  Okra.  He convinced me to go out.  Every night, until I had to throw the okra away.

I finally got smart and made it last week, while he was out of town.  That way, I figured, I could have the whole pot to myself (and yes, he TOTALLY missed out–it was delicious).

Ben Barker’s Stewed Okra (a.k.a. Tomato Gumbo)

1 T olive oil
1 T rendered bacon fat (yeah, I just left that out, since I don’t usually have bacon fat hanging around)
1 medium onion, peeled and diced fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 pound okra, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup cooked long-grain white rice

Heat the oil (and bacon fat) in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, lower the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens but doesn’t color.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes (and any extra juice).  Bring to a simmer.

Add the okra and simmer until the okra is tender (approximately 8 to 10 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cooked rice and serve.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ana October 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Yum! That looks much brighter and frseher than gumbo that cooks all day (don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the authentic stuff!!).I found a technique for making the browned flour roux WITHOUT having to slow cook the flour in the fat for a long time, constantly stirring, hoping it doesn’t burn, etc. You can dump a bunch of flour on a sheet pan and bake it in the oven at the lowest temp possible (175-200F) for 2-5 hours – depending on how low your oven is, how much flour you have, etc. Get it dark brown – like the color you’d want to see used in your gumbo. The house’ll smell a bit scorchy, but you can make up a large batch of this, store it in the freezer, and then add spoonfuls as needed to thicken your next batch of gumbo. Lower fat, full’a flavor, and less time!


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